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What Is Considered an Unsafe Work Environment?

January 4 2023 | Workers' Compensation

When you clock in at work, the last thing you anticipate is getting seriously injured. Unfortunately, thousands of workplaces in Connecticut do not offer safe work environments for employees. If you get injured because of an unsafe work environment, learn your rights in terms of seeking financial compensation and holding someone accountable.

What Is an Unsafe Work Environment?

An unsafe work environment is defined as one where an employee cannot perform his or her required job duties due to dangerous workplace conditions. If the physical conditions of a place of employment put workers at an unreasonable risk of harm or are not conducive to a productive work day, it may be deemed unsafe. If your workplace contains dangerous conditions, this can put you at risk of serious accidents and injuries.

Common examples of unsafe work environments include:

  • A lack of personal protection equipment
  • Poorly supervised or managed construction sites
  • Workspaces that are not up to code
  • Violated state or federal safety standards
  • Ignored safety signs or symbols
  • Machinery that is damaged or missing guards
  • Equipment in a state of disrepair
  • Physical hazards, such as noise or air pollutants
  • Worksites that expose workers to toxic substances or fumes
  • Cluttered offices that pose trip and fall risks
  • Poorly trained or unqualified workers
  • Excessive workload being placed on a single employee
  • Electrical or fire hazards
  • Blocked safety exits
  • The threat of violence by other people or animals

Several laws and policies are in place to protect workers from unsafe environments. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), for example, is a federal organization that enforces safety and health employment codes nationwide. If a business or employer violates any of these laws and fails to provide a safe, productive workplace, impacted employees may have the right to file lawsuits.

How to File a Complaint for an Unsafe Work Environment

You have every right to a safe working environment as an employee. If you notice an unsafe working condition, you should inform your employer right away. Give the notice in writing to document your complaint. If your employer does not remedy the situation in a prompt and effective manner, you should go to Human Resources. If the company still ignores the safety issue, file a complaint with OSHA.

OSHA can investigate your workplace to search for signs of an unsafe environment. If it is discovered that your employer has violated any safety regulations, OSHA may require the company to pay a fine and repair the hazard. It is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you, or take adverse employment action, for reporting a safety hazard. If you get fired or demoted after filing a complaint, you may be able to sue the company for retaliation.

Holding an Employer Responsible for an Unsafe Work Environment

If you were injured or a loved one lost his or her life due to a safety hazard or unsafe work environment in Connecticut, you have the right to file a lawsuit to hold the company accountable. A personal injury lawsuit aims to prove that the defendant (such as your employer or the business owner) breached a duty of care owed to workers, and that this resulted in an injury or death.

All employers have a duty of care, or a legal obligation, to protect the safety and well-being of their employees. Violating or falling short of this duty can make an employer liable for a related accident. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney before you file a workers’ compensation claim for this type of accident. Once you accept a settlement, you lose the right to sue your employer for an unsafe work environment.

A personal injury claim against your employer could potentially result in greater compensation for your losses as an injured victim than workers’ compensation coverage. For example, you could receive compensation for your pain and suffering. Contact an attorney in New Haven after an accident in an unsafe workplace to discuss the right legal route for you.

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